Residents and golf course managers may have welcomed a sudden rainstorm in California’s drought-stricken Coachella Valley last month, but the powerful downpour created havoc for numerous schools, roadways and businesses where the parched ground simply couldn’t absorb the massive volume of rain that fell on the morning of Sept. 8.
The flooding knocked out electricity in the La Quinta area and rendered unusable the entire first floor level of the resort where the Guthrie/Mayes Public Relations media training team had been preparing to launch a full day of training sessions for 10 representatives of one of our largest corporate clients.
Without our Verizon Wireless smartphones and a portable charging device, we would have had to cancel at least the morning session for the first five trainees, not something we wanted to do given that the client had brought us from Kentucky to Palm Springs solely for this training. Although the Guthrie/Mayes team regularly travels to provide media trainings, these particular participants had also traveled from all over the country.
Both Guthrie/Mayes’ full-day and half-day media training programs include multiple on-camera interviews with each participant, which we record and later play back so that we can discuss key training points. The mock interviews are key to a successful training session, as they help participants learn and practice their new skills.
As the flood waters rose that morning, we spent the first several minutes running among the three rooms where we had video cameras and monitors set up, unplugging and picking up cords and moving sensitive equipment before the water could ruin it. Then, as we waited for resort personnel to find rooms to replace our flooded training spaces, we huddled together to work out how we could still conduct the training.
Within the hour, we were relocated to the bar area of a Mexican food restaurant on the second level of the resort. The entire resort was without electricity, but we used a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone to record several interview sessions. We had to walk through the kitchen to get to our interview rooms, and the lack of windows in the bar meant the lighting wasn’t ideal, but the videos allowed us to review body language and facial expressions as well as participants’ answers. We then hooked up the GS5 to a laptop, so we could play back the interviews for group discussion.
We used a lot of battery power those first few hours of the day, recording and playing back interviews, as well as making all the arrangements with our client and the resort. Because the Mophie Power Station Duo 6000 enables you to charge two devices at the same time, we were able to keep both the GS5 and our laptop up and running until the electricity came back on later that day. This charger should be standard equipment if you need smartphone and laptop power on the go.
The only thing we were missing was a speaker to beef up the sound so all the training participants could hear over the roar of the emergency generator outside the bar. Verizon Wireless has several portable speaker options, so one is likely going into our media training case for situations like this in the future. When you’re in the business of public relations, you have to be ready for just about any communications crisis. Thanks to Verizon Wireless, we were.
Dan Hartlage is a principal with Guthrie/Mayes Public Relations, which provides media training for clients across the country, including officials and representatives of large, international corporations, small businesses executives, and professional and university athletes.